An Interview with Little Comets

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I’m thrilled to give you all this post! Little Comets, an English indie-rock band that formed in 2008, have been one of my favorite bands since high school. I’m ecstatic to have interviewed lead singer, Rob Coles, for my blog.

Little Comets, made up of brothers Rob and Michael Coles, plus friends Matthew Hall, Matt Saxon, and Nathan Greene, released their debut album, In Search of Elusive Little Comets in 2011. The next year, the band released their second album, Life is Elsewhere, (my favorite!) under Dirty Hit records. If you’re unfamiliar with Dirty Hit, they’re an award-winning, British, independent label (and happen to be my favorite record label), whose artists include The 1975, Pale Waves, Wolf Alice, The Japanese House, and more. Little Comets were signed with Dirty Hit until 2017. They independently released their third album, Worhead, that same year.

Matty Healy of The 1975 mentioned his friendship with the guys in an 2013 interview.  Little Comets even helped produce some of The 1975’s early tracks.

“Little Comets took us out on the road when we were in our very embryonic stages of our old band and just let us open up for them. We started getting fans off the back of that…Then they helped us produce ‘Sex’ the song, and ‘You,'” -Matty Healy

I discovered Little Comets in 2013 when they performed a show at a small, intimate venue in Portland. I got tickets to the show out of curiosity, and after just a few minutes, I fell in love with the band’s unique sound. Echoey, driving drums, beachy guitar riffs and vivid lyrics that can be interpreted in a variety of ways…that’s Little Comets.

Little Comets started out by playing small college gigs, cafes, and other unusual venues in the UK. Since then, the guys have come a long way. Just this last year, the band teamed up with Catfish and the Bottlemen (another fave band of mine) for a sold-out arena tour. After that, the band spent the winter writing and working on new music in none other than singer Frank Sinatra’s former summer home in California! These days, album number five is in the works, and the guys are planning out their next tour–it will be the first time they’ve hit the road in two years.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how Little Comets got started. Have you all been involved in music-related projects since you were young?

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Little Comets (Rob Coles): Mickey are I brothers, so we’ve been writing songs in the house since we were very little. Once we’d finished Uni, we decided to see if we could make a living out of being creative, musically, so we set about finding other musicians to form a band. That was the start of Little Comets with Mark (our original drummer), and Matt, our bassist.

APP: One of my favorite songs of yours is “Bridge Burn.” It’s a super special song for me and a few friends. Can you tell me a little bit about the story behind it?

RC: Ah thanks, that’s nice to hear! That’s a song I wrote in my bedroom while Mickey was mixing songs for our second album. I kind of wrote/recorded it roughly and had lots of lyrics almost immediately for it. The coast is pretty great for providing lyrical metaphors. Theme-wise, it’s just about two people who realize that their time is up. When Mickey heard the song, he really molded the landscape. Initially, it was just a B-side, but in hindsight, we probably should have put a little more faith in it, as it seems to be a pretty popular song.

APP: Your sound/genre has been described as “kitchen sink indie.” Do you agree with that?

RC: Haha, I don’t really mind–as long as people are polite and constructive, they can describe our sound how they like. I suppose that it could mean, in terms of subject matter, that we write about kitchen sink-related things, which was certainly true of album one. In a sonic sense, though, we do use a lot of percussive instruments which are also kitchenalia, so if the cap fits…

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APP: If you could invite one artist/band to be in the crowd at one of your shows, who would it be and why?

RC: We got really excited once at a gig in Oxford because somebody asked that Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) be put on the guest list. It spoilt the gig, though, because we spent the whole evening looking for Jonny Greenwood despite him not actually being there, and probably never having any intention of being there. So I would choose Jonny Greenwood because I haven’t said “Jonny Greenwood” enough in this answer.

APP: Your latest music video, “American Tuna,” is super creative and visually complex in how it was filmed. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience filming? How did you come up with the idea as it relates to the song?

RC: It was fun, but stressful. We had received an email telling us, despite our very polite request, that we explicitly couldn’t use the building. So the whole process was based around being very secretive. This definitely hampered the final product, as we couldn’t redo shots or control timing or lighting. Mickey was in a Paternoster lift in an 18-floor building with the camera. As the lift travels up, each floor is a different scene which tells the story of a relationship. Mickey was in that lift for about 6 solid hours while we chased him ’round the building, doing scenes in non-chronological order to avoid security cameras. We were happy with the final video, but I just wish that people could see the levels of effort and time that just three people were involved in executing. It looks pretty pro, and the DIYness doesn’t come through. I think that given the constraints, it’s amazing. But I’m biased.

APP: That’s mind-blowing. Writing music is super different from filming a visual interpretation of a song through a music video. Has that ever been a challenge for you as a band?

RC:  I think we’ve learned to separate the processes quite naturally. We also like learning new skills, so the challenge of making a video or a piece of artwork is an opportunity to do that. The only problem is time. We are three people, yet we have to record, write, and release the music on our own label, then promote it whilst making the videos and artwork. Because we are novices in many of these areas, it takes us longer to produce these assets. That often puts us behind, as artists at a commensurate level have teams of people and pools of financial resources that we don’t. It does make the task psychologically difficult at times as well, compounded by the fact that we are in a industry that gives credence to having a machine in tow. We often get overlooked and dismissed because we don’t have a manager, record label, publisher, art director, plugging team etc. I think this is where the real challenge lies for us.

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APP: You haven’t toured for two years, but you’re making plans to head back onto the road soon! Do you have a favorite/funny memory from being on tour in the past?

RC: Probably when Matt broke his foot in Texas. We spent the next five days telling him he was fine, but then talking privately about how he was really hamming it up. By the time we got to Missouri, he got an X-ray and found out he had a hairline fracture. We felt TERRIBLE! He completed the rest of the tour perched on a bar stool during the gigs, and he became my hero.

APP: Are there any songs you feel you’ve outgrown that now seem to stray from your current sound?

RC: Ah no, they are all our babies. They popped out for a reason and we can’t really turn them away even when they become slightly haggard/annoying. That would be bad song parenting!

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Rob!

Listen to Little Comets here:

 

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2018 Concert Recap

2018 was a great year for new records and live shows. Here’s a little recap of the concerts I attended in 2018!

George Ezra: 5/8/18, Roseland Theater

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetI saw UK artist George Ezra perform in a small, local venue in Portland long before the success of his breakout single, “Budapest” in 2014. His booming, distinctive voice stuck with me after the performance, and I instantly became a fan. I won tickets to this concert in May through a contest his label created. I participated in various “fan activities” like watching George’s music videos multiple times, tweeting about him, and sharing his social media pages. I earned “points” that translated into number of entries, and I was my city’s winner! The concert was amazing–George played a full set of songs from both his debut record, Wanted On a Voyage and sophomore album, Staying at Tamara’s. I was thrilled when George performed my most favorite song of his, “Song 6.” This is a bonus track that appears on the deluxe edition of Wanted On a Voyage. It was magic to watch George perform it. Purple and blue lights on stage swirled around him as he sang, his eyes closed the whole time. I MAY have gotten a little emotional… 😉

Lucy Dacus: 5/26/18, Bloodworks Live Studio

Lucy, an indie rock/alternative singer-songwriter from Virginia, captured her audience from the very first song, “Night Shift.” (From her latest album, Historian.) Instantly, it became my favorite track. It tells a story of raw heartbreak and the conflicting feelings partners feel amidst the aftermath of a breakup. Immediately, Lucy reminded me of a few other of my favorite artists, like Phoebe Bridgers (whom she has performed with) and Courtney Barnett. Like these artists, she also seems to follow the “talk-singing” style, which reminds me a lot of when people read poetry out loud. I had the opportunity to meet her after the show, and she was so kind! (I’m not going to include the meet and greet picture here though, I look awful lol.) If you ever get the chance to see Lucy live, definitely check her out!

Dermot Kennedy: 5/27/18, Bloodworks Live Studio

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Dermot Kennedy, an R&B/alternative singer-songwriter from Dublin, Ireland, was the most unique artist I saw live in 2018. According to his online bio, “the young Dubliner draws inspiration from all the moments of brightness and darkness this world has to offer, crafting music that’s at once soaring and intimate, stripped-back and explosive. Stuttery hip-hop and R&B-influenced percussion underpins his weathered vocals as he combines organic and electronic elements into an arresting, emotional blend that calls to mind the adventurous arrangements of Bon Iver, and James Blake.” Dermot is a huge fan of Glen Hansard, another favorite of mine, who he ran into by chance on the streets of Dublin. A few months later, Glen invited Dermot to open for him on stage at a huge Christmas show! Dermot had a crazy strong stage presence when I saw him, and his voice really bounced off of the walls in the small studio. He mostly performed tracks from his 2017 EP, Doves and Ravens, plus  his most memorable song, “Young & Free.”

Death Cab For Cutie: 9/24/18, Hult Center

I’ve been listening to Death Cab since I was little, so when my friend offered me his extra concert ticket, of course I said yes! DCFC put on a great show, and engaged the crowd in between every song. It was so fun to hear some old classics in addition to new, like “Soul Meets Body,” which I’ve listened to forever, but also “Gold Rush,” from their latest record Thank You for Today.

 

 

Hozier: 10/20/18, Roseland Theater

Hozier played this Portland venue two nights in a row, and I caught the second show. My friend and I are both huge fans of Hozier, so naturally we lined up early and ended up being in the front row. (While waiting in line, we pressed our ears against the doors and could hear him soundchecking inside) It was insane–standing that close to Andrew (Hozier’s real name) and his band was a dream come true. He started off the show with his hit single, “Nina Cried Power,” which I wrote about in an earlier post. Hozier also graced us with what was an unreleased track at the time, “Movement.” Andrew was accompanied by his incredible band which is composed of some insanely talented musicians from all over the globe, including Kristen Rodgers (backing vocals, percussion, keyboard) and Suzanne Santo (fiddle, guitar, vocals) from Ohio. Suzanne first sang with Hozier as part of the alt-country-blues duo, Honey Honey, when they joined him to perform Work Song at a benefit concert in May 2017.

 

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Concerts I’m attending in 2019 (so far):

The 1975, 4/27/19: This will be my third time seeing my favorite band, and I’m ecstatic! I’m crossing my fingers that they play a mixture of new and old material, especially a few of my favorite songs, like “Robbers,” “Paris,” “If I Believe You,” and “Inside Your Mind.” Each time I’ve seen The 1975, they sweep me off my feet. I completely forget where I am, and I get lost in the music. Matty and the boys put on an incredible show, and they always come through with a stellar stage setup.

Bad Suns, 3/1/19: This will be my first time seeing Bad Suns live, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been listening to them for a few years now– they were the first record I was gifted when I received my first record player for Christmas a few years back.

 

See you in 2019, fellow music lovers!

(All photos, videos and gifs are mine.)

 

Summer Spins

Summer is here again! I’m super excited to be interning with The Portland Radio Project during the next few months, a non-profit radio station in Portland committed to showcasing local artists and supporting small businesses. I’ll be doing graphic design and social media work for PRP, which I’m stoked about!

Meanwhile, I’ve been listening to a lot of new music. Listen along below.

Albums

51xW1wRspzL._SS500Twin Shadow: Caer

I discovered this album by chance on Spotify, and I’m so glad I did! With a sound similar to artists like Flume and ODESZA, lead singer George Lewis Jr. has an intriguing voice. It is often complimented by quirky instruments like synthesizers.

You may recognize a few other voices on this record, such as band HAIM and singer-songwriter Rainsford. By far, my favorite track on the record is “Too Many Colors,” mostly because of the super cool intro. When you first listen to the song, it’s easy to mistake it for a children’s song or something straight out of Disney–a xylophone dominates the beginning of the track, which then leads into the first verse.

bridge_leon_goodthing_101bLeon Bridges: Good Thing

This record came out just last month, but I already know every lyric. 🙂 Before the release of this sophomore album, Leon teased us with a little taste of what was to come. He released his two singles, “Bad Bad News” and “The Bet Aint Worth The Hand” back in March. Surprisingly enough, I’d say that the rest of the record is pretty different from these two tracks, though! Through a healthy mix of blues, jazz and soul, Good Thing is a compilation of Leon’s stories: forgiving someone who broke his heart, his mother and her childhood (a continuation of the last record), and the moment he realized he may have found the girl of his dreams. Overall, I think this record is so beautiful–my favorite tracks are “Forgive You,” “Beyond,” and “Mrs.”

Leon will be on tour this summer! See if he’s coming to your city here.

the-search-for-everything-b-iext48856379John Mayer: The Search For Everything

John released his newest single, “New Light,” just last month, and paired it with a HILARIOUS music video. He hired a low-budget Bar Mitzvah video company to produce it. As a result, the video features John singing in front of a variety of incredibly cheesy backdrops matched with wacky transitions. Through out the video, John dances awkwardly in  a pair of dad-esque, purple striped pants and a torn sweatshirt. If you’re in need of a good laugh, watch the video here.

The Search For Everything was released not long before this single. The record follows John’s traditional style of ballads and bops, my favorites being “Still Feel Like Your Man,” “Emoji Of a Wave,” and “In The Blood.” This is one of those albums that anyone who’s ever been in a relationship (and experienced its end) can relate to–you can cry to this record, belt to it, or dance, depending on the song. That’s one of John Mayer’s many talents–he produces a a versatile style of tunes that can fit any mood.

Singles

the-1975-give-yourself-a-try-1527789760-640x640The 1975: “Give Yourself A Try”

On Friday June 1, The 1975’s much-anticipated new single,”Give Yourself A Try” was released. During my 10 am lecture that morning, I snuck out my earbuds and tuned into the premiere on Capital FM, London’s most popular radio station. Obviously, I loved the track immediately. It strays pretty far from the band’s usual style–with repetitive, biting electric guitar laying down the foundation of the song.

“Give Yourself a Try” describes Matty Healy’s (lead singer) experience of “getting spiritually enlightened at 29,” dealing with a drug addiction over the past few years: “And you’ll make a lot of money, and it’s funny, ’cause you’ll move somewhere sunny and get addicted to drugs,” and subtle views on politics: “I found a grey hair in one of my zoots…like context in a modern debate, I just took it out.”

De0tQzKU8AAmJQdDespite what many fans thought, The 1975’s new record didn’t drop on June 1. 😦 Instead, the band released this new single and announced the beginning of a new “era” of music for the band, known as the “Music For Cars” era. The new album, set to release in October 2018, will be titled “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.”

Naturally, being the super-fan I am, I threw a The 1975-themed party with my friends to ring in the new era! I covered my apartment with pink, black and white themed decorations, as well as provided The 1975-themed games and snacks (pink Starbursts, pink glowing balloons, pink Goldfish crackers, black and white napkins and silverware, The 1975 album-themed cupcakes, and a game of Pin-The-Tat-On-The-Matty.)

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Betty Who: “All Things” (From Queer Eye)

This is my go-to feel-good song for the summer. This single is a cover of the opening theme for my favorite show on Netflix right now, Queer Eye, a reboot of the Bravo series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It features the new Fab Five: Antoni Porowski, food and wine expert; Tan France, fashion expert (my favorite!); Karamo Brown, culture expert; Bobby Berk, design expert and Jonathan Van Ness, grooming expert. In each episode, The Fab Five give straight guys across the country much-needed life, fashion, and home advice/makeovers. Queer Eye is incredibly touching, hilarious, and the Fab Five are beyond lovable. This song, covered by pop singer Betty Who, features Betty’s killer vocals, and the music video for it is EPIC, featuring all five guys!

a3462444518_10Florist: “Vacation”

I’m not entirely sure what it is I love so much about this song, but I’ve had it on repeat the past few days. “Vacation” is a combination of warm, childhood memories and the everyday thoughts of a girl going through life the best way she can. Through out the track, lead singer Emily Sprague sings about reminding herself of the good things in her life in the midst of finding herself. My favorite lyric is: “I don’t know how to be what I wanted to be when I was 5.” Everyone can relate to this line, and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say there are times when it feels like we’re simply coasting through life, unsure of what to do next. It’s easy to start wondering what the five-year-old version of yourself would think of who you are now, and whether or not they’d be happy with the things you’ve accomplished. Songs like “Vacation” are really important, because it reminds us that we aren’t alone in thinking these things. It urges us to examine the moments that have shaped us, and remember that every day we continue to grow and change. Another lyric I love is: “And at least I know that my mom is breathing when we talk on the phone. And at least I know that my house won’t burn down, down to the ground. Or maybe it will.”

Accept things that come your way, and never stop listening to music that means something to you.

Cassette Tape Revival

Rewind! Over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed a huge resurgence in retro music formats. Vinyl has seen 260% growth since 2009, according to Forbes magazine. These days, I constantly see teens in addition to adults digging through the vinyl crates in the record store I work in. What may have started as a Instagram-motivated fad has now adapted into a full fledged vinyl revolution, encouraging young audiophiles to re-embrace the physical side of music during this age of Spotify and Apple music.

In addition to vinyl, cassette tapes have recently made a comeback. Mainstream artists like Khalid, Lana Del Ray, Arcade Fire, and The 1975 are releasing their latest albums on vinyl, CD, and now, cassette. Urban Outfitters has started selling clear, portable cassette tape players. (Gotta admit–they’re pretty cool. Here’s a tip, though: you can get something similar at Goodwill or a thrift shop for way cheaper.) “Check out my mixtape” isn’t just a silly phrase anymore–kids are actually making tapes again. (Okay, maybe it’s still a silly phrase.)

According to The Verge, “Helping the cassette boom are a few factors. For one, the official soundtrack for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is still going strong, despite its 2014 release. The soundtrack, featured heavily in the movie as the personal mixtape of Chris Pratt’s character Peter Quill, sold 4,000 cassettes last year.”

FullSizeRenderIf you want to get in on the trend, you can find cassette tapes at pretty much any local record store. If you’re looking to get creative and make your own, all you need is a CD collection, tape recorder, blank cassette tapes (you can get them at Fred Meyer) and Google images. I made some pretty quirky personalized mixtapes for my friends (see right and above)–they work great as birthday presents or just random lil surprises to show you care.

It’s pretty rad how retro is constantly becoming  the new cool. What’s next, the return of 8-tracks and floppy disks? I’m all for it!

Now Playing

I’ve been listening to a lot of old and new singles lately, and focusing less on spinning full albums at a time. They all differ in style and sound–from slow, dreary tunes, to loud, 80’s inspired tracks that are great to dance to–this month, I’ve compiled a playlist of quirky favorites I’ve been mixing and matching!

500x500“No Answers” by Amber Run

Amber Run has quickly become one of my favorite bands since I discovered them last year. With a sound similar to Bastille and Kodaline, their latest single, “No Answers” features a slow buildup of bass and deep, trembling drum accompanied by the band’s trademark chime-like guitar riffs. The band released this single at the beginning of this month in anticipation of their sophomore album “For A Moment, I Was Lost,” which you can listen to on February 10th of 2017!

sing-street-soundtrack“Up” by Sing Street (soundtrack)

This single is from the 2016 musical-comedy film “Sing Street,” which follows a young teenage boy in 80’s Ireland. Connor, the main character and lead singer of the band (Sing Street), forms a band in an attempt to impress a girl. He ends up finding himself as an artist, standing up to a few bullies, and forming a unique group of friends. The music in this movie is FANTASTIC. Way better than I expected it to be. The first song of the movie, “Riddle Of the Model,” is silly and anticipated (it’s the band’s first song), but you can’t help but sing along to it after a while. Following this scene, the band’s second song, “Up” blew me away. Sung by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, a 17-year-old Irish singer-songwriter, the song is so well-written and beautifully sung with a satisfying chorus that keeps you coming back for more. Honestly, I wish the song was longer. Check out the scene where the band performs “Up” here! (Seriously, click it.)

tumblr_md4628ckrm1qa7dyho1_1280“Undo” by The 1975

I love going back to old tracks by The 1975, my favorite band. This one, which was released on the band’s (deluxe) debut record back in 2013 as well as  their “Sex” EP, is simply hypnotizing. I recently watched the group’s full live performance at the London O2 presented by Vevo, and was reminded of how much I adore this single. (If you’ve got two hours to spare, check out the video of the band’s show here. Worth it.) This is a perfect song to simply space out to, absorb, and get lost in.

artworks-000148699541-wmccqy-t500x500“She Burns” by Foy Vance

I had the privilege of seeing and meeting singer Foy Vance for the second time this past summer, and as usual, he did not disappoint. Foy’s live shows are emotional and raw, and his dialogue in between songs with the crowd is funny, witty, and so beautifully Irish. This song, “She Burns” features a perfect array of vivid imagery which compliments Foy’s distinct vocals. My favorite part of the track is the bass that enters the song about halfway through–it adds such depth to the song, and sounds absolutely stunning through headphones.

Track-By-Track Review: The 1975’s New Album

IMG_8442Photo by Sophie Cettina

The 1975’s much-anticipated new record, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It,” came out on February 26. I grabbed a copy as soon as possible, and thanks to my amazing boss at the record store I work in back home, I even got a signed booklet from the band! (See at the bottom of the post.)

CGW08WCWoAEqvDiLast summer, The 1975 tweeted a few mysterious, cryptic comic book strips that stirred up controversy. The band seemed to be hinting at an ending of some sort, perhaps even the band’s end. After a few weeks, though, Matty (lead singer) revealed that the band was not breaking up, but instead, redefining their musical style & visual aesthetic. (Concert photos taken by me.)

Before this new record, the band avoided pop-like songs, overlystylized music videos and cheerful themes in their music. Additionally, the band members wore black clothing on stage and tended to post all their photos on social media with an added black and white filter. On the new album, though, each song features a hint of pop, even blues, and numerous other musical styles.

In addition to their new musical style, the band’s stage setup has changed. From dark, gloomy lighting to vibrant pinks, blues, and greens, complete with multi-colored neon rectangles to represent the band’s original trademark, their overall style has completely changed to imitate an 80s-90s aesthetic.

IMG_8410Photo by Sophie Cettina

To be honest, I was skeptical about the news regarding the band’s dramatic change. One of the reasons I love The 1975 is because they are unlike any other band in the music industry today–their lyrics are brilliant, and they certainly don’t look like any other bands to which I listen. Luckily, though, Matty and the boys didn’t disappoint with their new record–their new style is refreshing and still just as good (if not better) than their previous album. Here is my individual review of each track.

CckRhUVW4AAlM0J1. The 1975: The track begins with an slow increase in volume through a flurry of synthesizer and space-like sounds. The song comes to a sudden stop, and then Matty enters, accompanied by a choir. This first song is also the first track on their debut album, and I love the idea of using this song as the opening to their sophomore album, as well. My favorite lines are: “Soft sound. Midnight. Car lights. Playing with the air. Breathing in your hair.” Through headphones, it sounds as if the song itself is drawing closer and closer in its beginning, about to burst your eardrums, until the soft pause in anticipation of Matty and the choir. It’s a perfect introduction to the overall record as it ushers into the wild guitar riffs of “Love Me.”

CckwP8AWAAAZEKn2. Love Me: With stunning guitar solos and fiery synthesizers, this song really strays from the band’s previous style. The guys released this track as a single a few months ago, and eventually paired it with a ground-breaking, style-defining video in which Matty is seen wearing heavy makeup (including lipstick and eye shadow) on an 80s themed, purple-and blue-light-bathed set. Throughout the video, Matty drinks sloppily out of a wine bottle (nothing new here) and proceeds to make out and dance with various celebrity cut-outs. I love the song. At first, I was unsure about it…especially considering the atypical intro. But the song eventually grew on me. By far, my favorite line in the song is: “You look famous, let’s be friends and portray we possess something important…and do the things we like, meaning we’ve just come to represent a decline in the standards are what we accept! Yeah, yeah, Yeah…no.” Matty never ceases to impress me with his witty songwriting as he subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) critiques social issues.

CckzrAnXEAAMQSS3. UGH! I’m obsessed with the intro to this song. The bass and guitar, mixed with Matty’s voice is absolutely perfect. It has an 80s-90s feel to it, which is such a fresh sound right now. The song title is also pretty quirky. Matty doesn’t say “ugh” at any point in the song, but it makes so much sense as the title. The song seems to be about a relationship that has ended, yet Matty can’t help falling in love with the girl a second time–hence the lyric: “and you’re the only thing that’s going on in my mind…taking over my life a second time. I don’t have the capacity for fucking…You’re meant to be helping me.” The word “ugh” pretty much sums up this situation–the phrase could really have either a positive or negative connotation, and it’s up to the listener to define which. “UGH!” is short and sweet, gracing your headphones for a duration of only three minutes.

Cck0eUdW0AIiK-i4. A Change of Heart: This echoey ballad  always makes me visualize the color purple, for some odd reason. A deep, rich purple. Through out the song, there are many references to The 1975’s previous record, and they even seem to continue the story of “Robbers,” my favorite track off their first album. The song surveys the story of a man who loves woman so much that he can barely function without her, even if the relationship is seemingly toxic. As a “A Change Of Heart” progresses, however, Matty does just that…he realizes that doesn’t love the girl anymore…and for no particular reason, really. “You used to have a face straight out of a magazine, now you just look like anyone.” (In contrast to the lyrics of “Robbers:” “She had a face straight outta magazine. God only knows but you’ll never leave her.”) This song really depicts a modern relationship–there is no sugar-coating, and it’s all very realistic.

she's american5. She’s American: This track starts off calm and dreamy, and then immediately leads in with intense drums, guitars, and synthesizers. Out of all the tracks on the new record, this one sounds the most like the band’s previous, classic style. The guitar in this song is truly the best addition, fading in and out with the song to emphasize each lyric. My favorite lines in the song are: “She’s inducing sleep to avoid pain,”and “Don’t fall in love with the moment, and think you’re in love with the girl.” The song seems to follow the band’s relationship with their fans, especially since American girls adore Matty, a man from Manchester. The lyrics, “If she likes it ’cause we just don’t eat, and we’re so intelligent, she’s American. If she says I’ve got to fix my teeth, then she’s so American. And if she likes it ’cause we just don’t eat, and we’re socially relevant, she’s American,” seems to point out the stereotypes often associated with British and American people–Americans tend to eat larger amounts, and English people are sometimes viewed to be seemingly more “intelligent” due to their accents. Additionally, Matty emphasizes that the British are “socially relevant” right now, with so many girls falling in love British boy bands. (Very relatable to me!)

if i believe you6. If I Believe You: This track is the most notable on the album. The 1975 have completely outdone themselves with this song–with an amazing backup choir that belts out tight, sharp choruses to emphasize particular lines, the track is heavily influenced by gospel music. Lyrically, the song is fascinating as well. It seems to represent Matty’s inner monologue surrounding his opinions and beliefs on religion. Matty sings: “And if I believe you…will that make it stop? If I told you I need you…is that what you want? And I’m broken and bleeding. And begging for help. And I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself.” In the song, he expresses his struggle to find God (or some sort of higher power) in order to stop the pain going through his mind. He wonders if admitting to God that he needs Him is the key to receiving His help. The song really marks a new style for the band…it features a trumpet, which is the last thing you’d expect to hear on a 1975 record.

Cck30mBWwAA21XF7. Please Be Naked: This is another one of The 1975’s dreamy, lengthy songs in which they  manage to convey emotion and ideas mostly through noise and various instruments. It is entirely instrumental, and seems to rise in sound and intensity as the song progresses as if depicting the image of passion and love. The piano on this track is beautiful–the intro to the song which features a swirl of soft keys is breathtaking. Eventually, the keys lead into a sort of spacey, bell-like chorus.

Cck47Q-XEAAHZTR8. Lostmyhead: Matty writes quite a few songs about the inner workings of his brain, as well as instances where he’s felt he’s “lost his head.” This is a common theme in The 1975’s music–Matty always seems to be trying to find himself, his purpose, or his “brain” through music. “Lostmyhead” is probably my least favorite song on the record, though. It’s a bit of sensory overload. There is a lot of static and loud blares on the track, which is probably meant to predict and portray the sounds of the inner ramblings of someone’s (perhaps Matty’s) brain.

Cck6KEOXIAAG8v_9. The Ballad Of Me and My Brain: This track is truly a lovely mix of the old and new 1975. The song begins with the oohs and ahhs of the choir, and leads into Matty screaming at the top of his lungs about going mad. This track follows the continued theme of Matty losing his brain, but in this song, his brain is personified: “And what a shame you’ve lost a brain that you never had. Oh mum check the car, it can’t have gone far. I must have left it on a train or lost in a bar. It’s likely in a Sainsbury’s, flirting with the girls and waiting for me. I jumped on a bus, declared my name, and asked if anybody’s seen my brain.” The song seems to suggest Matty’s loss of control over his brain and his actions as his band continues to grow in popularity. This song is really well written, and Matty’s emotion, frustration, and sense of deliriousness really comes through.

Cck66FKW8AAAUNi10. Somebody Else: This is one of those songs that really tugs at your heartstrings. It’s about painful feelings and thoughts after going through a breakup: you don’t want the person anymore, but it kills you to see them with someone else once they’ve moved on. This is an extremely emotional ballad, which features great electric keyboard, guitar, and synthesizer. The majority of the track is somber, slow and melancholy, but eventually ends in Matty singing angrily: “Get someone you love? Get someone you need? Fuck that, get money. I can’t give you my soul cause we’re never alone!” The repetitive line that is interwoven through out the entire track, “I don’t want your body…but I hate to think about you with somebody else,” is so simple yet so powerful.

Cck7x7EXIAAG3l-11. Loving Someone: This is one track on the album that disappointed me a bit–it’s too electric-pop for my taste. Although I may not love the song, the spoken word which is featured in the middle of the track is brilliantly written, and truly thought-provoking: “She blazed about how cultural language is an operation system. A simple interface rendered feeble and listless. When tested with a divinity or a true understanding of the human condition I never did understand – the duality of art and reality – living life and treating it as such but with a certain disconnect.” It’s definitely worth your time to stop and listen to this one for it’s spoken word addition.

Cck8scsW4AAtjS-12. I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It:  In a recent interview, Matty explained that this phrase was something he whispered to an ex-girlfriend one morning. He thought it was an interesting concept, so he wrote it down, then used it as a song title. He explained that the phrase makes him feel a little uneasy, which he believes is a good thing, explains why he decided to make it the name of the overall record. You can’t always be 100% sure about everything when it comes to writing music. This song is another completely instrumental track on the record, and definitely imitates sleep, dreaming, and love with its ambient noises and instruments. The ending of this song is heartbreakingly beautiful. Matty sings: “Before you go, (please don’t go) turn the big light off.”

the sound13. The Sound: Initially released as a single before the band’s album release, this song is a declaration of the band’s separation from their previous style. In a recent BBC 1 interview, Matty said: “It wears its pop on its sleeve and it’s kind of unabashed. There hasn’t been a vehicle yet for us to do that. This album is perfect [for the song] because it’s juxtaposed with everything the album is.”  This song includes a killer guitar solo from lead guitarist Adam Hann, and and intro that builds up into a burst of piano, quick guitar, drums, and Matty’s brilliant voice. My favorite line is: “It’s not about reciprocation, it’s just all about me: a sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe. There’s so much skin to see…a simple Epicurean philosophy. And you say I’m such a cliché. I can’t see the difference in it either way.”

Cck_ZYgW8AARxR014. This Must Be My Dream: I love the guitar in this track, as well as the strong chorus that brings the choir back in. The song seems to illustrate a relationship that is too good to be true–it must be a dream. As the song progresses, it becomes clear that it is, in fact, too good to be true. Matty sings: “Pipe down, you’re no lover. It’s failing cos’ you want it to. Well, I thought it was love but I guess I must be dreaming ’bout feeling something instead of you.” I was so excited to find that this song features The 1975’s brilliantly talented saxophone player, John Waugh, whom I met in April 2014.

CclAXBCWAAAXUae15. Paris: It took Matty about a year to write this song, which is fascinating to me, since it’s not a song about complex breakup or relationship, but rather about a city with which he’s fallen in love. And no, it was not written during the time of the attacks on Paris. Matty wrote this song because of his adoration for Paris, and in a recent interview he said: “I’m writing about a city I love, and that’s what I’m going to remember, I won’t let Paris be defined by that (the attacks).”

The song is a dreamy ballad with echoing choruses, and repetitive guitar riffs that flow through the entire song. The track seems to follow the story of a girl who is abusing drugs: “you’re a walking overdose in a great coat…” The song truly tells a story, and there are a few incredible lines that made me actually stop to Google a few of the words used. For example, Matty sings: “There was a party that you had to miss because your friend kept cutting her wrists. Hyper-politicized sexual trysts. ‘Oh, I think my boyfriend’s a nihilist.’ I said ‘Hey kids we’re all just the same…what a shame.'” Thanks to the Internet, I discovered that “nihilists” believe that all values are baseless, and nothing in the world can truly be known. Nihilism is often associated with extreme pessimism. It is fascinating to me that Matty embedded this word in the story of the song…perhaps he is struggling with a bit of nihilism himself–pessimistic views commonly come through his music. Next to “If I Believe You,” this is one of my absolute favorites off the record.

be0b1a6e0b9b1b58ef035e966c352277.1000x666x116. Nana: This is the most heart-wrenching track on the record. Matty was extremely close to his Nana, (Annie) and still struggles in coping with her death, which is why he wrote this song. The track is simple, but conveys so much emotion. Matty doesn’t dance around the concept of death in his music–he flat out acknowledges it, as painful as it may be. After all, death is unapologetic in itself. In “Nana,” he sings: “Oh sleepless nights, a grown up man dressed in white, who I thought might just save your life…but he couldn’t, so you died.” In the very last few lines of the song in which Matty sings: “But I’m bereft you see. I think you can tell…I haven’t been doing too well,” the singer’s voice cracks with emotion, as if on the brink of tears. This song is so moving, touching, and in the end, simply gut-wrenching.

CclCm4bW4AAro5Q17. She Lays Down: This track is entirely acoustic, complete with chatterings from the band before/after the song finishes. The song is intriguing; it seems to highlight the story of a young woman who so desperately wants to love a man…but just can’t bring herself to. He’s everything she wants, but she simply doesn’t love him in the same way he loves her. Just like most typical 1975 songs, the track touches on the negative effects of drugs and the part they play in relationships. This track is completely stripped, exclusively featuring acoustic guitar and Matty’s raw singing voice. (Update 1/13/17: Matty has disclosed that this song is about his mother and her struggle to raise him.)

Thanks for reading this far. Hope you enjoyed my review! Please feel free to tweet me your thoughts and opinions on the record as well. 🙂

stuff

5 Haunting Songs On My iPod

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(Photo by Nan Palmero)

Songs that give you goosebumps are the best kind. Sometimes they’re so well-written, they make you shiver. Or maybe they just speak to you, relating to your exact situation.

In this post, I’m going to focus on those types of songs that stick in your mind even after you’ve finished listening… the haunting, weird ones. I picked the most eerie songs I could find off my iPod, and compiled them below. Enjoy!

1. Transylvania–McFly

This is a chilling song about death, betrayal and love. It follows the true story of Anne Boleyn, who was Queen of England in the 1500s. Her husband, King Henry VIII, had her put to death after finding out about the hidden, romantic relationship she shared with a peasant. This song reminds me a bit of Bohemian Rhapsody–the chorus is powerful and loud, and the song tells a compelling (and weird) story.

2. Riding To New York–Passenger

This somber, somewhat gloomy song is told from the perspective of a man (Passenger) who meets a frail, aging man riding to New York from Minnesota by bike. The man admits that he’s suffering with emotional and physical pain–he’s just found out he has lung cancer, and wants to reconnect with his broken family he’s lost touch with before he passes away. I love this song. It reminds you never to take your life for granted.

3. The Lost Boy–Greg Holden

You may have heard this song featured in season 5 of Sons of Anarchy. According to Entertainment Weekly, “‘The Lost Boy’ is a eulogy for a fallen character, but the song was actually inspired by Dave Eggers’ novel What Is The What, about a group of Sudanese refugees. ‘If you listen to the lyrics, it’s not like you’d know that it was about a Sudanese refugee,’ Greg Holden tells EW. ‘I know what it’s about, but I’m really glad people are able to take their own meanings from it. I like it when songs have more meanings than just the one that was intended, so I’m glad that people were able to relate to it through Sons of Anarchy.'”

I met Greg Holden a few weeks ago, and heard him perform a few of his songs off his debut album. Although he didn’t perform this one, most of his songs were similar–each held a deeper meaning, and shed light on common social, as well as emotional issues.

4. Bronte–Gotye

This song is pretty hypnotizing from the very beginning, and Gotye wrote it about something you might not expect–a dog. It’s based off a true story about his friend who was putting down his 21-year-old dog Bronte. Gotye explained in an interview with Artist Direct: “When you love and care for an animal, you don’t want it to suffer too much. You also respect nature and the natural cause of things. They really struggled with the eventual decision of deciding they had to let go of the dog and put it down. I thought they did it in a very loving way. From what I could tell, it was very instructive and inclusive for their daughters. They did it as a family. I wrote that song like I was vicariously experiencing it. That’s what I’m proud of. In its simplicity, I felt like it captured my feelings of that experience even if it was at a distance. You don’t have to necessarily interpret it as a relationship between people and animals.”

5. Antichrist–The 1975

The 1975 have never performed this song live, possibly because of how controversial it is. Matty Healy, the lead singer, has said it’s their band manager’s favorite song, and that he is always is encouraging the band to perform it live. Matty says this song is really personal, and one of his favorites they’ve written–it represents the fact that he often wishes he was religious so that he had something to believe in, but is however, an atheist. The lyrics in this song are incredibly well-written, with such great imagery. One of my favorites.